Dr. James Holloway has officially been in the University of New Mexico provost position since July 1, 2019 and, so far, he is “thrilled” with the work he has seen go on at the University.

“As Provost, my job is to help our students and our faculty be successful,” Holloway said. “The administration and the staff are here to support the intellectual and creative chaos that a community of scholars needs in order to develop new ideas and to take action to serve New Mexico and the world.”

Although he is pleased with the work being done academically at UNM, Holloway said there are  challenges the university may face in the upcoming years. 

“We need to grow enrollment; we need to ensure that our students have an excellent experience and graduate into the world ready to make an impact; we need to build the facilities and grow the resources that faculty require to do their work in education and scholarship; and we need to ensure our staff have what they need to support this success,” Holloway said. “It’s these challenges that brought me here.”

Holloway, who came to UNM from the University of Michigan, recently shared his favorite books with the Daily Lobo, emphasizing that they are listed in no particular order and adding that he doesn’t believe in rankings. 

“Most interesting and important things cannot be ordered along a continuum. This is a western idea that puts excessive faith in quantification and measurement,” Holloway said. “Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things that can be quantified, measured and ordered. But books are not one of them!”

Gödel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter 

“There is so much to love about this book. It’s a book about meaning, and a book about the limits to knowledge, founded in the deep mathematics of formal systems and the surprisingly rich notion of recursion.  GEB (as it is often called) tackles the interesting question of how we create meaning within the neural processes of the brain. I read it in graduate school, and it’s remained with me as the most creative and cleverly constructed book I have ever read. GEB is truly a work of genius, in whose study you can gain a deep understanding of some hard concepts, and have fun while doing so.”

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

“This is a bit of a cheat, since many folks think it’s a trilogy of books, and Tolkien himself claimed it was six books in three volumes. In part I love this book because my mother read it to us when we were kids, but later when I read it myself (multiple times) I was pulled in by the deeply imaginative and complex world building and by the many interwoven themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and loss. But, I was also entranced by the amazing use of language and the careful construction of sentences using internal rhymes and alliteration to lead the reader along.  Of books I have read, only Charlotte’s Web contains consistently more lyrical prose than this. I also believe this book has the most satisfying and saddest ending line of any book I’ve read— ‘Well, I’m back.’"

Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald Phillips  

"Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most fascinating, deep, complex and important leader the United States has known (only George Washington competes as a president, and while Lincoln had perhaps a harder task, Washington’s ultimate greatness was captured in his farewell.)  Phillips’ book uses observations, quotes, and events from Lincoln’s presidency to illustrate ideas in how to lead in complex and ambiguous times. If you know something of the history of the U.S. during the Civil War, it gives a really interesting perspective into the conflict and Lincoln’s prosecution of it, while providing some ideas for how to be an effective leader."

Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

"Ok, it’s a guilty pleasure, but I love cathedrals and cathedral building and the fascinating pre-engineering artistry of that work, so to have a good beach novel founded around the process is kind of cool.  And besides, they did a musical version of it in Danish – how many books can claim that?"

The Mismeasure of Man, by Stephen Jay Gould

"Gould wrote so many good books, and it was tough to pick this over Wonderful Life, which is a wonderful book!  Gould brought two key attributes to his writing: a lovely style which was “an incredible mix of metaphor, baseball, art, and literature” as Barry Palevitz put it, and a willingness to engage bravely with ideas and to spar with them in an honest way.  The Mismeasure of Man is a felicitous final choice for my fifth book, because while exploring the ways that men have tried to narrowly understand the processes of the brain, Gould warns against the propensity for ordering complex phenomenon along a single scale (to slightly misquote him)."

Makayla Grijalva is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria